Obama: Perception vs. Reality

Had we elected Dennis Kucinich, pretending that were possible, I wonder just how that would have translated into Republican votes for progressive legislation, fewer filibusters, or a diminished corporate influence on Congress.

President Bush managed to ram his agenda through. As it turns out, there are no corporate interests opposing deregulation, or tax cuts, or wars, or Patriot Acts. Had Bush taken on the oil companies, or wall street, or insurance companies, it would have been a very different story. Understand that progressive public policy is vociferously and effectively opposed by the big money interests that wield tremendous influence over Congress. Conservative policies are not.

Obama didn’t draw a line in the sand on the public option because, even without it, health care reform survived by the skin of its teeth. Wall street reform was weak, but a more aggressive bill would not likely have been approved by the Senate. A flaccid energy bill cleared the House and died in the Senate. I fail to see how righteous demands and stamping of feet by the President would have changed any outcome.

Let’s take a look at foreign policy. Obama promised to wind down the war in Iraq: Check. He promised to escalate in Afghanistan: Check. He promised to concentrate the fight on the Pak-Afghan border where the terrorists actually were: Check. The Libyan situation warrants scrutiny, as does the continued existence of Gitmo, and the practice of extraordinary rendition. But are these controversial policy matters sufficient to undermine the Obama presidency, weaken his chances for re-election, and depress Democratic voter turnout in 2012? I hope not.

The Cabinet is suspect as well. I could do without Geithner, Summers, Holder, Salazar, and probably a few others. I would much prefer an administration staffed with the likes of Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Eliot Spitzer. But what real difference would a more progressive cabinet have made? Would fewer mortgages be underwater? Unemployment lower? Would fulfillment of the TARP bailout not have been necessary? Would DADT have been repealed? Glass Steagall reinstated? Would the BP oil spill have been prevented? Off shore drilling banned? The Dream Act passed into law?

Sure, there have been plenty of disappointments. I expected that, because there were disappointments in the primary. Obama’s pledge to escalate in Afghanistan, unwillingness to support gay marriage, refusal to categorically oppose capital punishment or investigate the Bush Administration, and affinity for a bi-partisan cabinet are several that come to mind.

Obama promised too much, and we expected too much, but then, John McCain isn’t president, and Sarah Palin’s flanderings are of little worry or embarrassment to the country. It’s time to get back on the bandwagon. A Republican victory in 2012, given the Tea Party influence and Supreme Court ramifications, is unthinkable.

I’m back in the game, proud of the President, and just as enthused about, and willing to work for, an Obama victory in 2012 as in 2008.

Anyone care to join me?

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